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Knowing the fundamentals of drawing and reshaping paths is only part of the story. In Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Advanced, the second of the popular One-on-One series, computer graphics expert Deke McClelland covers some of Illustrator's most powerful and least understood features. He shows how to merge simple shapes to create complex ones with the Pathfinder palette, as well as align paths to create schematic illustrations. Deke explains how to paint fluid, multicolor fills with blends, and the new and improved gradient tool. He explores seamlessly repeating tile patterns, blobs and brushes, and imported images. He also dives into one of the deepest features in all of Illustrator, transparency. Exercise files accompany the tutorial.
Recommended prerequisite: Illustrator CS4 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
Download Deke's customized keyboard layouts and color settings for Illustrator from the Exercise Files tab.
Opened in front of me is Cave drawing .ai and it happens to be a two-layer illustration. We have a blank layer called Draw horse and that's where we'll be drawing the horse, and then below that we have a Template layer that features this low quality image of one of the 17,000 BC cave drawings at Lascaux. 17,000 BC, can you image? These were discovered, by the way, by high school boys. Can you image being one of those high schoolers, just stumbling along and it's just, "hey, dude, I never noticed this cave before. But there is some drawing- Holy Moly," and then it turns out they are from 17,000 BC. It's not a hoax. My goodness, wouldn't that be an exciting day? Anyway, it's going to be an exciting day just for us too because we are going to discover the painting tools over here. They're not really from 17,000 BC.
They are from something like the late 90s, 80, but still they are fun, and why don't you go ahead and grab this tool right here the Paintbrush tool, if you're working along with me? And I'm just going to go ahead and start like tracing this Lascaux drawing here, this cave horse, and I'm working with a mouse, incidentally in case you're curious, which is not the best Drawing tool. It's sort of two drawing what a bus is to parking, which is just hey, very clumsy and large.
And even so I'm getting some decent drawing going here, if you like it, not great, but it's okay, then we'll go ahead and draw the horse's face, like so, and then complete that lovely painting right there. That I was able to pull off just using the common everyday average Paintbrush tool. So you don't have to worry about things like anchor points and control handles. You can just go ahead and lay the stuff down as you see fit. So I'm going to go ahead and draw a couple of more little pieces to this animal, like so, and once I'm done, we are going to switch over to the Brushes palette, just to give you a sense of what's going on. You could even give him a big eye.
That'd be nice. And a pupil. Now that I've done that, let's bring up the Brushes palette, which is right next door to the Layers palette. Thanks to my work in the previous exercise, and I'm going to go ahead and select every one of these lines that I've drawn so far by pressing Ctrl+A or Command+A on the Mac. And you can see that every one of them has no fill and it has a black stroke, by default. Now, this is assuming you had your default colors in place from the get-go, which would have been a White Fill, which the Paintbrush tool ignores and that Black Stroke. And then it's going to go ahead and apply the three-point Round Brush by default.
Now, let's say you want to switch to a different brush, and you can switch to any brush you want. We've got the calligraphic brushes up top and then we have these art brushes below and we'll be talking about the Art brushes' at length in some later exercises. But for now, I'm just going to go ahead and switch over to one of these other calligraphic brushes. For example, if I select 6 pt Flat, we are going to get something that looks like calligraphic brush stokes. Like we drew the horse, quite badly of course, but with a pen nib and I'm going to press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac in order to hide those anchor points so we can see what we're doing.
And then you can switch to any of these brushes that you like, including this one here, 15 pt Oval, and then if you decide it's not looking exactly the way that you wanted to look, you could go in and edit that brush by double-clicking on it and now we'll bring up the Calligraphic Brush Options dialog box. You can change the Roundness of the brush if you want to, just by dragging on one of these side handles. And if you want to preview how that looks inside of your illustration, then turn on the Preview checkbox and Illustrator will go ahead and update those lines on the fly.
And so in my case I might want to take the Diameter down a little bit and decrease the width of that brush, so that I get more of a calligraphic effect. I can even draw this arrowhead, in order to change the angle of the pen nib and so on. So that gives you a sense of what you can do with brushes inside of Illustrator. In the next exercise, I'm going to introduce the concept of pressure-sensitivity, which really makes this tool come alive.
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